The new social network Clubhouse is on fire in the Russian Federation, mainly as a way to communicate, reach influential people, without the watchful eye of Kremlin censors.
Clubhouse took off in Russia this week. The social network saw the audience for its audio-chat service increase 20-fold as big brands and top managers from major companies signed up. The former head of Russia’s financial regulators even appealed for Central Bank Governor Elvira Nabiullina to get involved. The amount of coverage Clubhouse received in Russia’s biggest media outlets increased every day, reports Russian independent media outlet ‘The Bell’.
The app requires an invitation from a member to join, and this feature is being used to keep out unwanted accounts, like government watchdogs.
The app has opened up a new way to reach influential individuals. Oleg Tinkov, founder of Tinkoff Bank, can be found roaming chat rooms, while other popular users include the entire top management of internet giant Yandex and the usually taciturn president of chess federation FIDE and former deputy prime minister in Dmitry Medvedev’s cabinet, Arkady Dvokovich.
Perhaps surprisingly, Clubhouse has largely remained free of overt Kremlin propaganda. Vladimir Solovyov, a notorious pro-Kremlin TV presenter, may have been the first to try and use the app as a sounding board for the authorities. But the network blocked his account in response to user complaints.
It’s not easy to explain why Clubhouse has become so popular in Russia, and the reasons seem to be similar to everywhere else in the world: it offers an alternative to endless video calls and is a nice substitute for a lack of in-person communication. But it is also an opportunity to reach influential people, and provides a more sophisticated platform to create and share expertise compared to traditional podcasts (on Clubhouse, you find specialists available for conversation in themed rooms).
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